Vale's Totten Mine still closed for investigation

Shaft at the mine continues to be blocked by equipment

Vale's Totten Mine still closed for investigation

More than a month after 39 miners were rescued from a mine near Sudbury in Ontario, the mine continues to be closed for investigation, according to a report.

The shaft at Vale's Totten Mine is still blocked by a scoop bucket equipment, and investigators are looking into how much damage it caused, CBC reports.

It became stuck when it shifted while it was being lowered down the shaft, slung underneath an elevator called a “cage”. Though it is still there, the scoop bucket has been secured, according to Vale.

READ MORE: Rescuer describes miners' perilous 1km climb to safety

Vale is planning to repair the shaft with hopes that the mine will be back in operation early in the new year.

Around 200 workers at Totten are involved in the repairs, with the rest having been assigned to other Vale sites in the area, according to the CBC report.

Vale is also continuing to upgrade its tailings dam infrastructure in Greater Sudbury two years after a dam collapse in Brazil that killed more than 250 people, according to another CBC report.

READ MORE: Risk assessment key to effective mine rescue plan

In the past 15 years, Vale has upgraded five dams in the Copper Cliff region which were built using the upstream method – when the tailings materials themselves are used to build a dam. And six dams are expected to be upgraded in the next six or seven years.

In a 2019 report, Vale listed eight dams in Copper Cliff that had an "extreme" hazard designation if they were to collapse. Of those eight dams, four were built with the upstream method.

The company's more than 40 dams in the Sudbury basin are also inspected every day, said Greg Puro, the geotechnical manager of dams for Vale Base Metals, according to the report.

"On a daily basis, we undergo vigorous visual inspections by operational personnel four times per day or twice per 12-hour shift," he said.

"And the purpose of their inspections are to ensure that there are no anomalous conditions, no pipeline breaks, our operational pond levels are normal and all of those sorts of activities. They receive training in terms of what to watch for in terms of emerging geotechnical conditions."